The central irony in Pedro Miguel Rozo's black comedy, Our Private Life, is that nothing appears to be private. The play opens with a phone call between brothers Carlos (Colin Morgan) and Sergio (Eugene O'Hare) in which they not only hear what the other is saying but also each others thoughts.
Set in a village that wants to be a town, or a town with the heart of a village, Carlos and Sergio come from a well respected family in a community where reputation and status is everything. But then rumours about their father (Anthony O'Donnell) and his relationship with his former tenant Tania's (Clare Cathcart) pre-pubescent son Joaquin (Joshua Williams) begin to spread.
The rumours start to poison an already infected family. Carlos is a diagnosed 'biopolar compulsive fantasist', gay and melodramatic and is determined to pin the source of his troubles onto everyone but himself. Sergio is successful and wealthy, fighting not to be tainted by his father's behaviour and to whom he is a continual disappointment.
Their mother is TV-obsessed, materialistic and describes herself as 'modern' in her way of thinking which inevitably means she isn't. And their father just seems bitter, depressed and resentful, particularly of Sergio:
"He'll end up a wreck, just like me...Doing everything out of habit because that's all there is. Everything else just goes, it frustrates you, it dies, it disappears out the back door to the bins like my one-hectare farm, and my sex drive with or without viagra"
As the story unfolds, secrets unravel and the family fights to uncover the truth while still keeping it hidden in a town where everyone seems to be on the make.
It is a rich, multi-layered piece with a good dose of the Latin quirkiness that has become familiar in the works of Latin American/Spanish filmakers such as Almodovar. It's humour is dark but there are plenty of laughs.
I do have to mention Colin in particular though as he was the primary draw for me having been impressed by his portrayal of Vernon in Vernon God Little back in 2007 before proving to be a capable and talented lead in the BBC's Merlin. It was great to seem him playing a not wholly likeable character and one in which he can stretch his acting skills. He didn't disappoint - he plays hysterical really well - and I'm really looking forward to seeing how he relaxes into the role when go back to see the performance with post show Q&A in a couple of weeks.
Of course his presence is attracting a lot of interest from his (well-behaved) Merlin fans and there was a larger than normal gathering of autograph hunters around the stage door afterwards - if it gets people into the theatre that wouldn't normally go then I'm all for it. Didn't stay for a post show drink so I don't know if he joined the other cast members in the bar afterwards.
Press night is Friday so no reviews as yet but I'm giving it 4 out of 5 to start with, it may well rise to 5 when I see it a second time.
Got more than one: Peter Mumford light-designed this and Cock and Adrian Schiller who plays the psychiatrist was in Bright Star. And just because I was feeling in the mood I've found a connection between Mr M and Mr W in the form of Lesley Manville who has acted on stage with both, All About My Mother for the former and His Dark Materials for the latter.